West Virginia Car Insurance
If you want to learn about auto insurance in West Virginia, we’ve got all the information you’ll need right here. Keep reading for information on required coverage, penalties for driving uninsured, important coverage decisions, the state’s high numbers of car accidents with deer, coverage verification, and more.
Mandatory insurance law
West Virginia is a “tort” state where the law requires all drivers to have insurance. If you’re a West Virginia driver, you have to prove that you have coverage when:
- Registering a vehicle
- Police ask for it
- It’s required in court appearances
- You’re asked to verify coverage by the West Virginia Online Insurance Verification Program
Minimum West Virginia coverage requirements
West Virginia law has certain standards for car insurance policies. Those standards require every policy to include a minimum amount of liability and uninsured motorist coverage. The following table breaks down the requirements.
|Required coverage types||Minimum amount of coverage|
|Bodily injury liability||$20,000 for each person’s injuries in an accident|
|$40,000 total for all injuries in an accident|
|Property damage liability||$10,000 total per accident|
|Uninsured motorist bodily injury||$20,000 for each person’s injuries in an accident accident|
|$40,000 total for all injuries in an accident|
|Uninsured motorist property damage||$10,000 total property damage per accident|
When someone driving your car causes an accident, it pays for victims’ medical and repair bills. However, it only pays up to a certain amount. Minimum policies include $40,000 worth of coverage for medical bills and $10,000 for property damages. If you get the minimum amount of liability insurance, you may see it referred to as 20/40/10 coverage. You can buy more than the minimums to be better protected.
Remember, liability doesn’t cover the driver’s medical bills or car repairs. It only covers those expenses for victims after an accident.
Uninsured motorist (UM) bodily injury
It pays your medical bills and medical bills for your family and passengers when they are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver.
Minimum policies include $40,000 worth of coverage for all medical bills.
Stacking: West Virginia law allows drivers to increase their uninsured motorist coverage through stacking. Stacking provides extra protection, but it may also increase your premium.
You may be able to stack coverage if you have multiple cars on your policy or are insured through multiple policies. Stacking basically lets you combine the coverage from all those cars or policies when you file a large claim.
Stacking options differ from insurer to insurer. So check with your agent or company to find out your options.
Uninsured motorist (UM) property damage
It helps pay for repairing your car or property if it was damaged by a driver who doesn’t have car insurance or fled the scene of the accident. Minimum policies come with $10,000 worth of coverage.
Penalties for driving uninsured
If you break the law and don’t buy coverage, it could cost you. You could get stuck having to pay other people’s medical and repair bills if someone crashes your car. You could also have your license and registration suspended. On top of that, you could have to pay thousands of dollars in fines.
|Number of Offenses||Fine||License & Registration Suspension|
|1st||$200 - $5,000||30 days & until you prove you’re insured|
|2nd (within 5 years)||$200 - $5,000||30 days & until you prove you’re insured|
|3rd and subsequent (within 5 years)||$200 - $5,000||90 days & until you prove you’re insured|
The West Virginia Online Insurance Verification Program helps the state enforce the mandatory insurance law. With the program, police and other state workers can verify whether you have coverage.
You may get a letter through the program asking to verify your coverage. These notices are sent out by the state DMV. If you get a notice and do not confirm your insurance information with the DMV, you could:
- Have your driver’s license and vehicle registration suspended
- Have your license plate revoked
- Have to pay a $100 fee to reinstate your license plate + additional $50 fee if state trooper has to come pick up the plate
Replying to a notice with false information will mean a 90-day driver’s license suspension, registration suspension, a fine of up to $1,000, and possibly a 1-year jail sentence.
In addition to liability and uninsured motorist coverage, there are optional coverages you can add. They’ll raise the cost of your insurance, but they’ll also provide greater protection. The following are the most widely available coverage add-ons in the state.
It pays for repairing or replacing the insured car if it’s damaged by something other than a collision. Some examples of this type of damage are vandalism, hail damage, and theft. In 2011, more than 7 out of every 10 drivers bought this coverage, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
It pays for repairing or replacing the insured vehicle after an accident. In 2011, more than 3 out of every 5 drivers bought this coverage, according to the NAIC.
Underinsured motorist (UIM)
It pays for you and your family’s accident-related bills if you’re involved in an accident with a driver who has insurance, but not enough to cover all of the bills from the accident.
If you buy more than the state’s minimum amount of liability coverage, West Virginia requires that you are also offered UIM coverage.
Minimum UIM protection offers coverage for $10,000 for property damage and $40,000 for injuries from an auto accident. You can purchase higher UIM coverage limits, but they can’t be higher than your liability limits.
It pays accident-related medical bills for you and your passengers. It provides coverage no matter who caused the accident.
It pays for the cost of renting a car after an accident.
Towing & labor
It pays for towing and labor due to a mechanical breakdown.
How claims work in West Virginia
West Virginia uses a “tort” system for car insurance claims. That means if someone injures you or wrecks your car, their liability insurance pays your medical and repair bills.
But in some cases, the other driver won’t be 100% responsible for the accident. Your actions could have contributed to the accident, and you could be partially responsible. This makes things a little more complicated.
If you’re partially responsible, it reduces the amount you can get from the other driver’s insurer. West Virginia uses modified comparative fault to sort this out. Here are the details:
If you’re at least 50% responsible for the accident: The other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay any of your bills. You have to completely rely on your own policy.
If you’re less than 50% responsible for the accident : The other driver’s insurer will pay your bills. But the amount they pay will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you’re 20% responsible for an accident, the other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay 100% of your bills. Instead, it pays only 80%, since you were 20% responsible. So in this example, if you have $10,000 in bills from an accident, the other driver’s insurer has to pay only $8,000.
So what if the other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay your bills? You use your own policy. Medical payments can help pay your medical bills. Collision will help pay your repair bills. But both of those coverages are optional. You’ll be on your own if you didn’t add them to your policy.
West Virginia auto insurance rates
West Virginia car insurance premiums are higher than average. The average cost of a policy in the state was almost 9% higher than the 2011 national average, according to data from the NAIC. That makes it the 15th-most expensive state in the U.S. for car insurance.
If you drive safely, infrequently, or both, you may want to look into a usage-based discount program. These programs use a device you install in your car to track how far it’s driven and/or if it’s driven safely. Depending on how you drive, you could potentially get a discount of up to 30%.
The following major insurers offer usage-based discounts in the Mountain State:
- Progressive: Snapshot
- The Hartford: Truelane
- Esurance: DriveSense
Texting violations can affect your rates
It’s near normal these days to see a driver behind the wheel with a phone in their hand. But traffic safety officials are trying to change that, as well as the insurance industry.
West Virginia’s ban on texting while driving was put in place in 2012. If you violate the ban, you might feel the pain in your car insurance bill.
The reason for this is after 2 offenses, violators get 3 points on their driving record. Car insurers often view these points as a sign that you’re a risky driver, which means they might raise your rates.
West Virginia auto insurance companies
For high-risk drivers
Have a lot of traffic tickets or accidents? You might have a hard time finding car insurance coverage. In West Virginia, you can still turn to the West Virginia Automobile Insurance Plan. It’s the car insurer of last resort for the state’s high-risk drivers.
Have you already filed a claim, only to find there’s a delay with your payout? Or is there another complaint you want regulatory officials to know about? The state’s Offices of the Insurance Commissioner can help with your problem after you file a complaint about your auto insurer in West Virginia.